When Cuomo expanded vaccine options last week, allowing anyone eligible to go to any provider, he made it clear that that did not yet include pharmacies. At that point, he said pharmacies were only able to vaccinate New Yorkers over the age of 60 and teachers.
“New Yorkers with comorbidities are among our state’s most at-risk residents, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine protects this vulnerable population as we work to defeat the virus and establish the new normal,” Cuomo said.
Sunday’s announcement meant pharmacies can now vaccinate those with certain comorbidities and underlying conditions, too. However, according to Department of Health guidelines for providers and went into effect Wednesday, March 17, this was authorized the same day public-facing employees became eligible and providers could vaccinate any eligible individual.
It’s unclear why Cuomo omitted this from his March 9 announcement, when he maintained that pharmacies would still only focus on teachers and those 60+ as of March 17. It turns out that pharmacies have been allowed to vaccinate people with comorbidities for the last few days.
Those eligible to be vaccinated due to a comorbidity must provide proof, either with a doctor’s letter, medical information showing the comorbidity, or a signed certification.
New Yorkers age 16 and older with the following conditions are eligible for vaccines due to increased risk of moderate or severe illness or death from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
Guidance for indoor and outdoor gatherings in New York State also changes on Monday. Outdoor gathering capacity will increase to 25 people. Indoor gatherings remain at 10. The social gathering limit for public spaces will increase to 100 people for indoor spaces and 200 for outdoor.